The European Union (EU) Commission released its most recent Enlargement Strategy and Progress Report on the advancement of Iceland and Serbia’s bid to accede, or join, the EU.
While Iceland is a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) community and the Schengen Area, it does not yet enjoy full member-state status in the EU. Currently, as a Schengen member state, Iceland permits “borderless” visitor travel with many other EU countries. In addition, Iceland has a highly integrated economy with the EU. However, as an EEA member state, Iceland is party only to a common market.
As an EU member state, Iceland will become party to the EU’s common government (headquartered mostly in Brussels) that will also help Iceland to strengthen its freedom of movement of goods, services and people within both the EEA and EU common markets.
Serbia’s bid to join the EU has been marked by the Serbian Government making strides to open discussion in its recognition of the break-away region of Kosovo as a newly-independent state and to address anti-corruption reforms in the Serbian Government.
As a result of Serbia’s positive discussions in taking a more diplomatic approach to Kosovo and addressing government reforms, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Štefan Füle, has recommended that Serbia be granted Candidate Status by the EU Commision. By having Candidate Status, this will allow the EU and Serbia to continue further negotiations for advancing Serbia’s candidacy for full membership status.
Given the EU’s continuing concern over gaining control over the region’s common currency market, the Eurozone, and calming fears of certain EU member countries discussing their departure from the EU community, it will be interesting to see how accession talks continue with Iceland and Serbia over the coming months.